I never did like homework, but I always made it a priority to get it done. I was reminded of that this week when I received a last minute call to shoot a portrait of two corporate executives. On the surface, it was a simple shoot; they needed a press release photo and had 30 minutes to spare. I was to meet them the next morning in the lobby of their hotel and do a "quick shot". Not knowing the hotel, and knowing how busy NY hotels are in the morning, I was leery.
The budget didn't allow for location scouting but I needed to know what I was dealing with; seeing the location would make my life easier and boy, was I ever right. The boutique hotel was small, crowded and dark; there was no way I could shoot there. Luckily, the hotel is across the street from a park so I scouted that area, too. The forecast for the next morning was for rain, so I scouted another spot in the park that provided protection from the wind and weather. All in, I spent 20 minutes scouting.
After meeting the clients in the morning and having them easily see that shooting in the hotel lobby was out of the question, we went to the park and did our first shot; after a few frames it started drizzling so we quickly moved to the covered location. I set up a strobe with an umbrella and a background light, did a few test shots, then directed my subjects through a variety of poses and expressions; we finished in less than 10 minutes and headed back to the hotel in time for their meeting. Had I not done my homework on the location, I would have been left scrambling to find a suitable place to shoot; instead, being prepared showed the clients my level of service, professionalism and respect for their valuable time.